On Thursday, October 3, my parents and sister arrived in Rome, renting an apartment just down the road from me in Prati. Three years ago, we were all in Rome visiting my sister who was studying abroad in Italy at the time. Being that we did all of the touristy things on our last trip here, this trip was more adventurous! On Friday, my family went to Florence by train, where we explored the Duomo and the Boboli Gardens. This trip was very special to my sister because this is where she studied three years ago. It was nice to get out of Rome for a little while; Florence has such a different feel–not to mention it was about fifteen degrees cooler!
One of my favorite activities that we did in Florence was climbing to the top of the Duomo. It provided one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen, not to mention a great workout climbing up 414 steps!
Sunday was an extremely special day, and something that I will always remember. My two aunts, three uncles, parents, and sister rented a van and drove three hours south of Rome to a small town in Benevento called Apollosa. Apollosa is a town of about 2,600 people located in the mountains. What makes this town special to us, is that it is where my great-grandfather grew up. When he was seventeen, he got on a boat for America. The past couple of years, my mother has loved doing family tree projects, and was able to find out where my father’s grandfather lived. We headed to Apollosa with no plan, and no idea what to expect.
On our way there, we got a little lost so we pulled over on the side of the road when we saw an Italian couple. The couple spoke no English, and I used what little Italian I knew to try and get across the message that we were lost, and looking for Apollosa. The couple told us to follow them, and drove us twenty minutes to the town. I couldn’t believe how friendly they were to complete strangers. They brought us to one of the only hotels in Apollosa, and to one of the only people in the town who spoke any English. We tried to explain that we came from America, and that our great-grandfather grew up in this town. My dad had his translator out on his iPhone, which actually helped. The innkeeper got in contact with a man who he said would help us.
In the meantime, being that we were the only people at the hotel, they cooked an amazing meal for us–homemade pasta, some of the best steak I have ever eaten, and potatoes. Not to mention homemade wine. After about an hour, a little Italian man, named Americo, came up to our table. Americo spoke no English, but the innkeeper helped translate. Americo’s sister married into my family, the Coletti’s. Americo’s grandfather was great friends with my dad’s grandfather and the two of them went over on the boat to America together. Americo and the innkeeper then told us to get our car, and drove us to my great-grandfather’s old home, which was in ruins.
The house was completely in shambles, but I didn’t care. Just being there was such an amazing feeling. So many people in the town were trying to help our family, people that they didn’t even know. We walked around the old Coletti property, which overlooked the mountain of southern Italy–it was unreal. After about twenty minutes, Americo told us to get in the car, and directed us to the Apollosa cemetery.
I had never seen a cemetery like this. Most of the graves were in the walls, with flowers all over them, not to mention pictures of each person. We met the man in charge of the cemetery and he helped us find the Coletti family grave plot.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day, or a more amazing experience to share with my family. It was great seeing my father together with his three siblings. That doesn’t happen often because my aunts and uncles live all over the country. It made me think of their sister, Faith, who passed away around ten years ago. Having her there would have made the experience even better. This just made me think, this is what family is all about. My family leaves tomorrow, and their trip here is something that I’ll always remember.